Cuban dictator Fidel Castro: Newly-released records show that the

Cuban Missile Crisis was only one of two nuclear crises, the other

being between Cuba and the Soviet Union.



'Enraged' at Soviets, Castro Turned to Ex-Nazis During Cuban Missile Crisis (Die Welt, Germany)


"Castro wrote a sharp letter of protest about Moscow’s giving in [to Kennedy]. The Cuban revolutionary also refused to return his heavy Soviet weapons. ... He blamed Stalin's envoy for betraying Cuba: 'We took the risk, believing that the socialist camp would also take the risk for us. We were even prepared for a nuclear war in the event the Soviet Union was attacked. Now I can see that the Soviet government was not prepared to do the same for us.'"


By Sven Felix Kellerhoff


Translated By Nathalie Klepper


October 14, 2012



Germany - Die Welt - Original Article (German)

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and President John F. Kennedy in Vienna at the beginning of Kennedy's term in 1961: Little did they know that soon, they would face off in one of the most dangerous showdowns in world history, and then, shortly after that, both would be gone from the scene. President Kennedy was assassinated in late 1963, and Khrushchev was ousted in 1964.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: Cuban missile crisis: The other, secret one, Oct. 13, 00:12:14RealVideo

The revolutionary leader wanted to keep Soviet tactical nuclear weapons, and was angry at the Kremlin.


Never was the world as close to a nuclear war as at the end of October, 1962. The Soviet Union had stationed medium-range missiles in Cuba and was preparing them to be fired; in Washington, U.S. generals planned air strikes against these positions and a subsequent invasion of the island. Published before the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, newly-released documents show that the situation was far more explosive than previously assumed, because Fidel Castro was playing his own game. This may well have worsened already-dangerous tensions between the U.S. and the USSR.


At the height of the crisis, on October 26, 1962, the German Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND) in Pullach learned that Castro had recruited former members of the Waffen-SS. According to the report, the men were instructed to come to the Caribbean to be instructors for the Cuban military. Former German paratrooper officers and technical troops - so-called pioneers - were also welcome. The pay offered was approximately four times more than the average German income: around 1000 deutsche marks in Cuban currency a week [about $4000 in 1962 dollars], and the mercenaries were to receive another 1000 deutsche marks in the Western currency of their choice, payable to any European bank account. Up to the time of the BND report, four former SS-men had accepted the offer, although only two can be shown to have reached Cuba. Bodo Hechelhammer, director of historical investigations at the BND, concludes: "This shows clearly that the Cuban revolutionary army had little fear of recruiting staff with a Nazi past when it served their own cause."


Apparently, Castro was not only keen on making use of experienced German World War II soldiers, but he also tried to procure weapons in Europe. With the help of an arms trafficking network led by two right-wing extremists, Otto Ernst Remer and Ernst-Wilhelm Springer, the Cuban government tried to purchase 4,000 Belgian submachine guns - via Western Germany. The BND informed the government about this and reported: "Since October 25, 1962, actions have been taken resulting in executive access to this shipment of weapons." The obvious and probable conclusion is that Castro wanted to free himself of total dependence on Soviet weapons and instructors. This, however, suggests that he wanted to pursue his own politics.


The documents reveal that the BND was well informed about the contacts between the Cuban regime and Europe. Thanks to several viable sources of information in the Caribbean, the BND seems to have had amazingly-accurate information about Castro's secret rearmament. For quite some time, information about these events in 1962 have been known to the Federal Archive in Koblenz. Now we have the original reports. They can be downloaded from the BND Web site.





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In June 1962 at the latest, BND analysts recognized that Cuba’s ongoing rearmament has changed from being defensive in character to offensive. For the first time, construction sites were identified as potential sites for offensive missiles. At the same time, according to the documents, the CIA assumed that only conventional weapons - not nuclear ones - were being shipped to Cuba. On September 12, 1962, the BND informed the Federal Chancellery that since the end of the previous July, about 15 Soviet ships with more than 5,000 troops, mainly technicians and trainers, has landed in Cuba. Nine days later, they reported: "By the end of November, Cuban missile launch sites will be operational."


At the time, for technical reasons and because of bad weather, CIA surveillance flights had been suspended: not a single U-2 flew over the Caribbean island between the end of August and mid-October. Considering this, a statement by top Soviet politician Anastas Mikoyan is gaining credibility, which indicates that the first information about the stationing of nuclear weapons on Cuba came from the BND.


Information in BND files confirms much of what we know from other sources, from the discovery of missile installations in aerial photographs on October 15, the information possessed by President Kennedy the following morning, as well as the buckling under by Nikita Khrushchev 13 days later. What is remarkable, however, is the detailed manner in which some sources informed the office of BND director Reinhard Gehlen, the former WWII Wehrmacht general. For instance, there was a report to the BND from East Berlin dated October 31, 1962, stated that Castro had written a sharp letter of protest about Moscow’s giving in [to Kennedy]. The Cuban revolutionary also refused to return his heavy Soviet weapons.


This information is now confirmed by documents from other sources. It also shows that the Cuba Missile Crisis was by no means over with Khrushchev's announcement about the removal of offensive nuclear missiles on the morning of October 28, 1962. Documents from Mikoyan private papers show this. They were recently been published by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, an independent research institute in Washington D.C., after Mikoyan's late son bequeathed it the material.



On orders from Khrushchev, Mikoyan traveled to Cuba after receiving Castro’s fiery letter, remaining there for three weeks. The documents, completely unknown until now, include several telegrams and the minutes of a four hour debate among Mikoyan, Castro and "Che" Guevara from November 22, 1962, showing that Castro was enraged. He blamed his guest for betraying Cuba: "We took the risk, believing that the socialist camp would also take the risk for us. We were even prepared for a nuclear war in the event the Soviet Union was attacked. Now I can see that the Soviet government was not prepared to do the same for us."

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The revolutionary leader blamed the Soviets for discovery of the missiles by the United States, saying that not enough was done to camouflage the missiles. He also asserted that U.S. reconnaissance planes should have been shot down early on. Mikoyan, who tried to calm Castro down, shifted responsibility onto officers on the scene: In contravention of "Comrade Khrushchev’s orders," he said work had gone on in daylight.


The Cuban leader also hinted that he had uses not contemplated by Khrushchev in mind for the missiles. According to Mikoyan, the Soviet leader wanted to inform the U.S. of the weapons' existence, and that they posed a deadly threat to nearly all of America. With such a announcement, the missiles would have become a class means of nuclear deterrence. Castro, on the other hand, reproached Mikoyan, saying that Cubans could have built permanent hideouts, for example, mock factories. He claimed that poultry farms would have been suited to hide the missiles. The revolutionary apparently preferred hiding the weapons for use in a first strike.


But Castro's key interest was to keep Soviet tactical nukes on the island. President Kennedy announced the official lifting of the blockade on November 20, 1962, when he announced that there were no longer nuclear warheads on Cuba. In fact, however, Soviet General Issa Pliyev had control over almost 100 atomic bombs deliverable by short-range missile, artillery and aircraft. In case of a U.S. invasion, Pliyev was instructed to use these weapons in defense of Soviet positions.


Castro called for these highly hazardous bombs to be handed over to Cuban personnel, which would have made his regime the first nuclear power in Latin America. But the Soviets wanted to avoid this at all cost, as they considered the revolutionary leader to be unpredictable. Mikoyan even invented a non-existent law, according to which control over Soviet nuclear weapons was forbidden to other states. Castro finally had to give in so as to preserve Moscow’s support. So this second Cuban crisis - the “Soviet” Cuban Missile Crisis, ended quietly.



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[Posted by Worldmeets.US Oct. 20, 10:44am]